Mariah Carey gave all aspiring music artists an invaluable lesson during the Dick Clark 2017 New Year’s Eve celebration with Ryan Seacrest. Performing in front of an estimated one million person audience proved to be the perfect classroom.
It’s no secret that most pop artists now incorporate some kind of backing tracks in their show. The level of track dependance varies from artist to artist but most use them at the very least as a click track and voice-over guide to cue band members on stage. Track technology has proven to be a great tool for live performance but many have become too dependent on the tracks. What happens when the tracks or in-ear monitors fail to work? Apparently, Mariah Carey didn’t have a good solution for her dilemma on New Year’s Eve.
I remember a moment when an artist we worked with was given a huge opportunity with a prime time slot at a prominent music festival. Unfortunately, his track interface failed just as he was to begin his set. The artist used 35 min of his 40 min set trying to fix the interface. I surveyed the stage and saw a band of A level musicians who could have played anything on the fly and made it sound amazing without tracks. The artist could have turned disaster into a huge win with a Plan B.
If you strive to be a professional artist and you use tracks, you are crazy to perform without a Plan B. I will guarantee you will encounter a show where the tracks won’t work or your in-ears will fail. A true professional should always have a Plan B.
- require a couple wedge monitors in your rider as a back up
- pre-pare an unplugged type set and be ready to transition at any moment.
- when issues arise, act quickly and explain to the audience that you are experiencing technical issues but will do something special for them instead of the normal show
If the artist has an ounce of talent, they should be able to pull off an unplugged set on the fly. Imagine what could have happened if Mariah Carey would have quickly transitioned to an unplugged or even an A cappella set?